– By #Hannah McKelvey
Websites are a crucial piece of marketing and branding efforts that bridge the online communication between customers and small businesses. Visitors go to a website for a specific reason; so, it is important for a small business to use their site as a resource to answer a customer’s question and sell a product or service
A small business’ website not only has the ability to give information, but also attract new customers, build credibility, and nurture customer-business relationships. A website is the "new" brick and mortar of a small business.
Did you know that one third of small business owners maintain their websites themselves? This often results in neglecting key site functions including a user-friendly design, social network integration, and mobile optimization. A bad website is a sure-fire way to drive away any online interaction and take away the ability to acquire new business.
Because customers have become more tech-savvy than ever, small businesses need to harness the reality of website design and online presence. The true key to a good small business website: leave it to the professionals.
Here are the 8 costly website mistakes that small businesses are making:
1. Poor Design
Upon-arrival, a customer immediately begins to form a perception of a business. A poorly designed website can create a bad user experience and drive away customer engagement. When a small business owner designs their own website, it can result in a headache and the risk of a poorly designed website. Nearly 41% of small business owners who want to improve their website say that the design and aesthetic elements are the top choice of action. A well-designed website has the power to give customers a positive first impression that every small business needs in order to transform a site visitor into a brand-loyal customer.
2. No Call to Action (CTA)
What do small businesses want visitors to do once they’ve found their website? Without a clear call to action, customers do not know why they are visiting a website or what the company has to offer. Nearly 49% of small businesses do not have phone numbers on their homepages and 93% of sites do not display a contact email address. It is crucial for a website’s content to answer the customer’s question then tell them what to do next such as: buy a business’ product, contact them, or subscribe to their newsletter.
3. Time-Consuming Updates
When a small business owner chooses to maintain the site themselves, they run the risk of wasting valuable time that could be used to cultivate business. Of those owners who choose to update their own site, 64% find the time-consuming task a major challenge. Customers expect a business’ website to contain the latest information about the company, products, and services. When a website doesn’t have this, customers may assume that the business may no longer be open, or is not as good or innovative enough to run with the competition.
4. No Metrics
If a small business does not track metrics it cannot track their website’s progress, reach, or their site visitor’s habits and needs. Data and analytics are the foundation of judging the success of a website. Yet 75% of small businesses do not use analytic tools to measure their website’s performance. When a small business does attempt to track their metrics, almost 60% do not feel that they have the necessary tools to make sense of their site analytics or how to take action to resolve issues. If a small business really wants to know if their website efforts are working, they must take an in-depth look at the analytics and data – something that professionals can help a small business decipher.
5. Poor Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
A small business could have a beautifully designed layout and color pallet, but what good does it serve if no one can find it? Discoverability is crucial when attracting potential customers. Nearly 26% of small business sites cannot be found through an online search because their websites have zero Google Page Rank. Small business marketing is becoming more and more competitive. By simply using keyword data, meta descriptions, and page titles, a small business has the opportunity to stand out from the rest.
6. No Social Media Links
By integrating social media into a website, customers are able to share their experiences with a company. When customers generate this information about a business, there is potential reach to other people who might not have otherwise been targeted. Yet 91% of small businesses do not use Facebook widgets, 94% lack Twitter widgets, and 83% do not use Twitter links on their websites. By using social media links on websites, small businesses enable customers the option to generate more buzz via social media.
7. Not Mobile-Friendly
To an online customer, there is no worse message than, “Sorry! This website is not optimized for mobile devices.” Not only do online customers expect a mobile-friendly website, but it is a Google requirement in order to rank on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Most visitors look at websites on their smart devices instead of a desktop, but 60% of small businesses do not have mobile websites or know if their websites are mobile-friendly. By failing to engage with people through mobile-capability, small businesses are missing out on a large portion of key consumers – of which 80% use their phones to search online.
8. No Designated IT Person
On average, a single cyber-attack costs over $8,000 to correct – a huge expense for a small business owner. Without designated IT help, a business’ website is vulnerable to multiple security breaches. In most cases, small businesses are commonly not as tech-savvy as larger companies, or they don’t have the resources to provide a full-time IT position. Nearly 44% percent of small businesses say they have been cyber-attacked before. The money that a small business owner ends up paying for regular maintenance is only a fraction of what it costs to repair a hacked website.
How Can These Costly Mistakes Be Avoided?
Leave it to the professionals. Eighty-eight percent of online consumers are less likely to return to bad websites. A website that is designed by professionals is much more appealing to visitors. To an online customer, a business’ website is the storefront – why risk losing credibility by having an amateur-looking site? Professionally designed websites build brand identity and are customized specifically for that business. Not only does this include a custom layout, but also many tools and resources that include SEO expertise, optimized content, and social media marketing strategies – all while being maintained and updated by IT professionals.
A professionally designed website can give customers and clients the exact tools that they need to engage with your business online. A website is fair-game when it comes to business big or small. Avoid these costly mistakes and compete with the big-dogs by leaving website design to the professionals.
Consultations at Robert Sharp & Associates are always free.
We specialize in website design and Search Engine Optimization. If you are looking to revamp your website, get some SEO insights, or learn how we’ve helped others compete online, contact us at 605-389-3705.
SOURCE: YODLE | NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS ASSOCATION | SITEAPPS | VSPLASH